Lee Dixon: Giggs typifies the difference between the sides – and why United will triumph

The Weekend Dossier
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Last week's surprising defeat to Wolverhampton means today's Manchester derby is a much bigger game for United than it might otherwise have been. Sir Alex Ferguson will be looking to prove that result was an aberration.

Being at home against their bitter local rivals always ensures a great atmosphere, but in the wake of their first league defeat of the season there is more riding on the game now. There will have been quite a few teams who have come away from games against United this season wondering how they have lost, or drawn.

I do not believe United have been lucky; that evens itself out over the season. Rather it comes from their belief that they will win, a knowledge that only comes from experience of how to deal with situations. That strong self-confidence had seen them come through some difficult games unbeaten. They have seen it all before and at times it almost becomes robotic, that you will come through games and win. United had played really well against Aston Villa in their previous game, so I really didn't see that defeat at Wolves coming.

Now they have had their wake-up call, I expect them to respond with a very different performance against City. People will be looking to see if they are going to wobble, but they have one of the best managers in the world in Ferguson who will be throwing down the gauntlet to his players. He will say last week's display was unacceptable and will now be looking around at them expecting a positive reaction.

At top clubs, the players are always on trial, with questions being asked of them. Even players like Ryan Giggs will be included in that. He will be asked whether he could have helped out organising things better, stuff like that.

History suggests Sir Alex will get the kind of response he wants, as in the past United have risen to the challenge on countless occasions. All you can ask as a manager is that a team puts in a positive response to a set-back, something United have excelled at in the past. They have a collective history together of finding the right response and they can almost do it without speaking, just with a look in the eye.

And that is where City are so very different from their neighbours. Compared to United's team, they have been together for five minutes. They can buy great players and provide all the right facilities but you cannot buy the exceptional feeling that comes when players have been successful together over a period of time. It is a strength that comes from playing together and understanding things together, and also winning things together.

Chelsea bought their team, and then they won things, so they managed to create that atmosphere in the side. But City still lack it. They do at least possess in Roberto Mancini a manager who knows how to win titles, having led Internazionale to success in Serie A. And he has brought in some very good people as his backroom staff in Brian Kidd, who was Sir Alex's assistant for many years, and David Platt, who I remember as someone who everyone looked up to when he came to Arsenal towards the end of his career.

United, however, have that kind of experience on the pitch, where it is much more telling. People are wondering if they might be a little complacent but I really don't think there is any danger of that. Players like Giggs and Paul Scholes will remember how they had a 13-point lead over Arsenal in 1998 but we managed to overhaul them and win the title. They will not let any kind of thoughts about having the title in their grasp creep in. It is players of lesser experience generally who start thinking these types of things and that's how you get the wobbles.

But United will certainly have their work cut out in today's derby, because City will undoubtedly make it very difficult for them. They will probably play like they have in other away games this season, by packing the midfield and trying to hit United on the break.

There might be a temptation to go for it, as the prize for winning the game would be cutting United's advantage over them to just two points. But the likelihood is that City will play it pretty defensively with the aim of getting a draw, or possibly sneaking a win.

United's pride is at stake now, however, and I fully expect them to put on a performance to match the occasion, and I back them to pinch a narrow victory.

Five Asides

1. I may only be second choice host but it's all for a good cause

I will be in a box at Arsenal today, with a dozen or so injured soldiers who are guests of Citroën. I have visited the armed forces rehabilitation centre at Headley Court in Surrey, and was amazed by their fortitude and remarkable spirit. I find it very uplifting to see people as heroic as these guys. The only downer is that I am only second choice as host. The sponsors tried to get Matt Lucas, but he was otherwise engaged.

2. Surreal feeling meeting such talented kids

People talk about Arsenal's talented youngsters but I met some really outstanding kids this week at the Yehudi Menuhin School in Cobham. I was there with my dancer wife Yolande to talk about performing and how to handle nerves. It was wonderful but a bit surreal, seeing all these talented kids from all over the world.

3. Ancelotti needs to leave Drogba on bench

Carlo Ancelotti needs to change his tactics for Monday's trip to Fulham following defeat to Liverpool, and I think he should revert to the system that worked so well before. That means putting Fernando Torres in the middle and leaving Didier Drogba on the bench.

4. At West Brom, it's still about the results, Roy

Congratulations to Roy Hodgson on landing the job at West Brom. It is very different to the one he faced at Liverpool but it's still all about results.

5. Young English duo have bright futures

Nice to see Jack Wilshere play well for England, and Josh McEachran do the same for the under-21s. They both have promising futures. It's a pity they seem to be such similar players.

Dixon's verdict on all the weekend action

Manchester United vs Manchester City

Dixon's verdict: Manchester City returned to winning ways against West Bromwich but Joe Hart still appears a bit shaky. Despite United's own problems in defence, they have improved and will take the points.

Kick-off: Today, 12.45pm (Sky Sports 2; Highlights BBC 1, 10.30pm)

Prediction: Home win

Arsenal vs Wolverhampton Wanderers

Dixon's verdict: Arsène Wenger will have been livid at the way his team let that lead slip at Newcastle and there is little danger of them making the same mistake twice, despite Wolves' fine record against the big sides.

Kick-off: Today, 3pm (Highlights BBC 1, 10.30pm)

Prediction: Home win

Birmingham City vs Stoke City

Dixon's verdict: Birmingham continued their good form with a win at West Ham but their mind may be on other things as the League Cup final approaches. Stoke are a top-half team now and will show that today.

Kick-off: Today, 3pm (Highlights BBC 1, 10.30pm)

Prediction: Away win

Blackburn Rovers vs Newcastle United

Dixon's verdict: Despite that memorable comeback last weekend, I fear Newcastle will start to feel the absence of Andy Carroll, particularly against the muscle Blackburn possess at the back. A home win for me.

Kick-off: Today, 3pm (Highlights BBC 1, 10.30pm)

Prediction: Home win

Blackpool vs Aston Villa

Dixon's verdict: Ian Holloway's side have been in horrendous form this year and he will be keen to end that run as soon as possible. Villa have looked better of late, full of goals, so this could be good for the neutral.

Kick-off Today, 3pm (Highlights BBC 1, 10.30pm)

Prediction Home win

Liverpool vs Wigan Athletic

Dixon's verdict: After a mixed start, Kenny Dalglish has really got the Liverpool players expressing themselves and, with Luis Suarez in line for a first start, Wigan could be in for a long afternoon at Anfield.

Kick-off: Today, 3pm (Setanta Ireland; Highlights BBC 1, 10.30pm)

Prediction: Home win

West Bromwich Albion vs West Ham United

Dixon's verdict: I was surprised to hear about Roberto di Matteo's sacking – time is not of the essence in the Premier League these days. West Ham have looked better and could take advantage of the Baggies' frailty.

Kick-off: Today, 3pm (Highlights BBC 1, 10.30pm)

Prediction: Away win

Sunderland vs Tottenham Hotspur

Dixon's verdict: Both teams have injury problems but there should still be some fine attacking talent on show in what could be an entertaining watch. Spurs, with minds on Tuesday's trip to Milan, to take a point.

Kick-off: Today, 5.30pm (ESPN; Highlights BBC 1, 10.30pm)

Prediction: Draw

Bolton Wanderers vs Everton

Dixon's verdict: Just when Louis Saha hits form he gets injured, and David Moyes will be cursing his luck. Bolton look a different side since Daniel Sturridge's arrival and are my tip to take the points tomorrow.

Kick-off: Tomorrow, 4pm (Sky Sports 1; Highlights BBC 2, 10pm)

Prediction: Home win

Fulham vs Chelsea

Dixon's verdict: Chelsea have perked up of late and will be keen to put last week's blip against Liverpool quickly behind them. It will be interesting to see how Fernando Torres continues to link up with Didier Drogba.

Kick-off: Monday, 8pm (Sky Sports 1; Highlights Tues 12.30am, SS1)

Prediction: Away win